Too many books and too little time to read?

That may be a common problem for many of us.

Maybe the problem isn’t too little time, but you are not reading efficiently due to some misconceptions about reading.

Misconceptions about reading

1. You have to read everything in a book or newspaper to understand it.

It’s impossible to reading everything. Instead, you should get in the habit of selecting and prioritising what’s actually important.

2. You have to remember everything you read to get something out of the material

We had a misconception during learning in school that we have to memorize everything we read in our textbooks because we are tested on it.

However, a memorized material is only stored in the short term memory and can’t be easily retained. Instead, try writing down the crucial information or make highlights and notes.

Then keep it later for easy retrieval when you needed. This way you can find the information easily and take the pressure of memorizing it.

3. Reading at work is bad

Most people think that reading during work hours is bad. Unless you are doing manual labour, reading is actually part of your job!

People think that they’ll appear to be slacking off if they read on the job, but in fact, reading relevant materials can help you come up with new business ideas, stay up to date with your industry and find ways of overcoming obstacles.

Many businessmen had stacks of books in their offices and they most of them would be reading and referring to the materials during work!

How to be a better, faster reader

So how to be a better, faster reader?

Start by following these three steps:

1. Have a clear purpose for reading

Start with a clear purpose and responsibility for what you are reading. It will help with your organization and concentration.

Ask yourself why do you want to read this book?

Look for your immediate needs. For example, if you want to learn a new skill or keep up to date with the latest industry affairs, then you should only get what is relevant to your immediate needs.

2. Preview the material before starting to read

Previewing allows you to get a background overview and helps you to read and comprehend text faster while reducing the tendency to re-read. So preview and get an idea of what the book is about and which parts are relevant to you.

Begin first by reading the first few introductory paragraphs to get where the introduction is heading. Next, read the titles, headers and subheadings. Finally, read the first few sentences of each paragraph to get an idea of what each section is about.

Previewing can help you to get as much as 40% of the material’s key information.

3. Learn speed reading techniques

The third step is learning how to read faster. Most of us learn how to read during school without being taught any efficient methods.

So here are some of the strategies that you can adopt to make yourself a more efficient, faster reader.

Try reading keywords

The first technique involves focusing only on the important words and skipping the rest. Keywords are more the more important words in a sentence. Usually, they are longer than three letters and carry a meaning.

Another strategy is to stop your eyes on thought groups instead of separate words. Imagine phrases as being separated by slashes: Look for/thought groups/you force/your eyes/to move faster/while maintaining/good comprehension.

Interestingly, comprehending the whole phrase at each stop will require you to use your peripheral vision. You can train your peripheral vision by quickly glancing at phrases and repeating them.

It may get tiring for your eyes at first due to the new muscle movement. But as your practice, the eye muscles will gain muscle memory to the new movement. The more you exercise, the better it gets.

Read between the lines

One way to get faster is to focus on on the white space just above the line. This way you can still see the top half of the letters and easily understand them without getting stuck.

The exercise is to move through the words without getting stuck on any words. You can do this more effectively if you are not looking at the words directly.

Reading peripheral vision

The other way is to read via your peripheral vision by indenting.

Instead of looking at the line in the beginning, try looking about half an inch inside of the left margin and end reading half an inch before the end of the right margin. You’ll still be able to see the start and the end of the line using your peripheral vision.

The trick can reduce the start and stops of reading by your eyes and increase reading by more than 10%!

Use your finger or pen to lead your reading

Our eyes naturally follow a movement.

By pointing and moving your fingers it can help to guide your eyes to read faster through a text. All you need to do is place your finger on the left or right of the line and as your read across the line, you steadily move your finger towards the bottom of the page.

You can also try placing your index finger in the centre of the paragraph just under the line of reading and move down or in a snake like manner.

The third method is using your thumb, sticking out on the page, like holding a card. Then just place your hand vertically or horizontally over the text you read.

Conclusion

These methods of reading may be uncomfortable at first but they will help you to become better at reading. It will soon become a good habit for you.

One last advice, do remember to take a break once in a while. Research shown that people can only concentrate reading for about 20 minutes at a time. So give yourself a short break of 5 – 10 minutes after 20 – 30 minutes of reading to rest your brain and eyes!

Happy speed reading!

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